I would love to expand my writing to the countries I visited before joining the Peace Corps and the other countries in South America I have had the opportunity to explore over the past few years. I hope that as you continue to read these posts you’ll enjoy experiencing the first time I stepped foot outside the US and landed in Rome, or the time I discovered the humbling natural beauty of an endless salt flat in Bolivia, or when I heard the flying rhythms of flamenco for the first time in Spain! Let’s take a trip down memory lane together and continue on the journey of exploration and global acceptance.
1,000 days later she understands that the greatest gift of all was not the chance to travel, but the chance to find life in a small town in the Northern Andes of Peru. The donkey races and pick-up soccer games. The lunch invitations that turned into hour hikes into the campo and all night parties. The process of culture shock and learning the art of enjoying alone time. The delicious new flavors and the custom of offering a meal to every visitor, even when you have no food to offer. Finding the human connection and the art of understanding foreign customs. Showering them with kindness and using love as a universal language. Turning the “fish bowl” into an opportunity to be an example, with the hopes of making a small change in life of someone somewhere, and at the same time knowing that she could not help everyone everywhere.
Puno is a small town in the South of Peru bordered by Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable body of water, and it is alive with bright colors, friendly people, and beautiful artisan work! Neon pom poms line boat windows and shops are filled with handmade alpaca winter accessories. The man-made floating reed islands can by spotted from the shoreline and tourists from all over the world visit to get a taste of the island traditions.
With the high school entrepreneurship class I started each day with the video project and they LOVED it! The class clown even tried to solicit a North American girlfriend. The video pen pals were a class of students in Washington D.C. who were studying Spanish, so we communicated entirely in Spanish. The Spanish teacher also happens to be a RPCV from the first group of volunteers who re-entered Peru! Due to privacy issues, I can’t make the US videos public but here are the ones from my students in Peru.
It was crowded by people just like me. Everyone congratulated one another and it was like a small family of hikers who had achieved their goal. People canon-balled into the glacier water and other carried out the tradition of the “naked lake jump.” I was happy for them. I was happy for me. We were forever bonded together as a random group of humans who joined the Peace Corps.